December 9, 2020: Before sunrise the Crescent is near the star Gamma Virginis while brilliant Venus is low in the southeast. In three mornings, a thin moon joins Venus before sunrise.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:07 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:20 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Before sunrise the crescent moon is about halfway up in the sky in the south-southeastern sky. It is among the stars of Virgo, near Gamma Virginis (γ Vir on the chart). The moon is 33% illuminated. Tomorrow morning, the moon is near Spica.
Venus is lower in the southeastern sky among the stars of Libra.
On December 12, the thin crescent moon is above Venus. The pair should inspire photographers and artists.
Reflected sunlight from Earth’s features gently illuminates the night portion of the moon. This is known as earthshine.
The earthshine effect can be seen with a binocular or small telescope. Get ready for the scene that occurs in a few mornings to capture the scene in a creative way.
The photo above from earlier during 2020 displays the earthshine effect.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (24.3d, 33%) is over halfway up in the sky in the south-southeast. It is 3.3° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir, m = 3.4). Venus is lower in the southeast, about 11° in altitude. It is 3.4° to the upper left of ι Lib.
Read more about the planets during December.
February 19-21: The bright moon moves through the constellation Taurus. Use a binocular to see the starry background with the moon.
February 18, 2021: The moon, waxing toward its First Quarter moon phase, is high in the southwest after sunset. Planet Mars is 3.8° to the upper right of the moon. Mars is parading eastward compared to the starry background in eastern Aries as it heads toward the Taurus border.
February 6, 2021: Before sunrise, look east-southeast for the waning crescent moon. It is 4.5° to the upper left of Antares – the rival of Mars.